Mobile Learning – just a fad?

Mobile learning is, well, learning on the move. For many years it’s been touted as a complete replacement for all other methods. It stands to reason, everyone fiddles uncontrollably with something, why not a mobile device? I mean, it’s probably even healthy if you’re trying to give up smoking. It’s probably non-fattening too or at least can help you lose weight as part of a calorie controlled diet…..

I think there’s now a realisation that it isn’t the total solution that was promised. That doesn’t mean to say it’s rubbish or it’s a fad. Instead, it shoudl be seen as part of the learning solution. It’s especially good at supporting students outside the classroom. For goodness sake, we can even download missed lectures on quantum mechanics from iTunes these days (I bet that’s a big seller).

But, mobile learning doesn’t stop at iTunes and smartphones. Mobile learning is anything that can be taken with you (I don’t mean a wodge of papers here – but i suppose it is really – or even a dog). Often it’s just a matter of making things available in electronic form and the right format. 3GP is the standard video format for just about all mobile phones (smart phones or not) and mp3 or AAC for audio. If you have a smart phone like the Blackberry (certainly, a little fruity) or iPhone or smart devices like iPod Touch or iBook, there are numerous applications that can be developed and dowloaded. Some of these are even useful and have a point and are beginning to be used for learning (including H&S courses).

The cognoscenti can even download files to their computer and transfer these to their phone via bluetooth, IR or even micro-memory card, thus avoiding network charges. As great as these are, they don’t replace all the other learning assets. See them as a handy solution that fits in with a part of your lifestyle. Undoubtedly as technology gets better the distinction between mobile learning and other modes will blur – you’ll be able to do so much as you’re out and about that you’ll probably get run over by a rickshaw in Covent Garden whilst learning cantonese…..